October 5, 2006. This page contains all major reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Caesar Salad with bush tomatoes, instead of the croutons, wattleseed icecream with a sambucca jelly: you’re as likely to get it at the Yasawa Island Resort in Fiji as you are in Alice Springs even though the bush tomatoes and the wattleseed were harvested in Central Australia.
That’s because Athol Wark, who back in 2004 with Hanuman’s Jimmy Shu was the Territory’s first culinary ambassador, now works for the resort for four months a year, tantalising its elite guests with some of the unique flavours of Australian wildfoods.
That’s great for the international reputation of an Australia-identified cuisine but the unfulfilled potential of Alice as a gastronomic destination is a “wasted opportunity”, says Mr Wark.
He knows he is not alone, acknowledging first up “the 65,000 year old tradition of Indigenous cuisine”. 
Fellow chef Beat Keller, as chair of the Central Australian Food Group, is working to galvanise energy around a food tourism initiative. Proceeds from the Food Group’s stall at the Masters Games and later a Christmas lunch will go into a fund to promote the cause.
Peter Yates, of wholesaler Outback Bushfoods, apart from helping maintain the supply of wattleseed and bush tomatoes to the food industry, has also developed an ingredient, Wakalpuka  Dukkah (a blend of roasted and ground wattleseed, sunflower and sesame seeds and spices) that Mr Wark has been cooking with at gastronomy events around the world.
Rayleen Brown of Kungkas Can Cook uses bushfood flavours in the multitude of events she caters for, from school festivals throughout the region to professional conferences in town.
The Alice Desert Festival’s Bushfoods / Wildfoods competition, run for the last two years, has been important in raising the local profile of flavours unique to our region.
And, no doubt, with the greater involvement of professional chefs in the competition, being championed by Mr Keller, more restaurants will be using bushfoods and wildfoods on their menus.
But the endeavour has yet to gain the kind of momentum that would see Alice Springs identified with a food experience.
 “Every state in the country has food tourism, why not us?” asks Mr Keller. Bushfoods are taking off interstate but if you came to Alice Springs and wanted to find out about them, where would you go?”
“We need a food trail,” says Mr Wark, “an experience lasting over four or five hours.” 
“It could start, for example, at the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens where they grow all these food plants. You’d have a guided walk and morning tea, then you’d walk or ride into town to visit a number of restaurants offering unique outback gourmet experiences. You could work in some story-telling with some of the iconic people from Alice Springs.
“All this would be fee paying. The operators would make money and visitors would leave, having gained knowledge and a memorable, unique experience.
“This has huge potential for destinational marketing.”
Tours where food is not the central focus and accommodation houses should also promote wildfoods, argues Mr Wark.
“You can have normal Eggs Benedict in Sydney and Brisbane. If you come to the desert, you’d like to have something different.
“It could be a Lemon Myrtle Eggs Benedict with camel bacon. Bacon doesn’t have to be pork, it’s just cured meat, it can be done with camel. Or else buffalo sausages. Or pancakes with the wattleseed syrup that Peter Yates has developed with Serendipity. 
“For lunches serve wattleseed breads and bush tomato chutneys. For dinner work with Australia’s unique meats – kangaroo, crocodile, emu, barramundi – and value add with Australian flavours.
“I’m not someone who can sit around and wait for things to happen. I’m doing this in Fiji and people are loving it. It should be done here.”
Mr Wark will crust lamb with saltbush, chicken breast with Wakalpuka Dukkah. He is not a purist, though. His recipes are a fusion of all kinds of native Australian tastes with traditional European dishes: 
“There’s not quite enough to work with to finish a dish that’s unique to Central Australia,” he says. “For instance, there’s no local barramundi, no seafood. That’s why I went with ‘wildfoods’ from all over Australia.”
At Yasawa he’s created a wattleseed espresso semifredo, served in a capuccino cup with a cinnamon donut on the side, to appeal to his American guests: “It’s a hit!”
But the focus should not be solely on the tourist market. Catering for the local population would ensure excellence, he argues.
“In Alice the hospitality industry caters mainly for the non-returnees so they don’t have to try too hard.
“I think they should capitalise on the interest of the people in town who would come back if they had a good experience.
“People in town deserve more. It’s a market the industry can capture.”
He’s convinced the Alice Springs public want to know about food and would get behind special events.
“I’d like to see our unique locations used. For instance in the river you could have the world’s longest buffet.
“There’d be a whole lot of stall holders, you’d buy tickets, $4 or $5 for tastes from each stall and a glass of wine or beer.  I’ve seen this work in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart but we could do it with a difference.
“Everyone loves food, we can make that work for us, link it with cultural festivities, like the Alice Desert Festival. We could have two to three of these a year – we could cater for our American residents by doing a version of their food festivals in our environment, like a New England Clam Chowder in the middle of the Todd.”
It all sounds enticing, so what is stopping the idea from taking off? It comes down to seeing the economic benefit and everyone coming to the table, the hospitality and tourism industry as well as the town council and Tourism NT. We need a consistency of attack.
“In 2004 Jimmy Shu and I did a lot of things overseas and interstate but then nothing happened to pick up on what we had started – such a wasted opportunity.”
Mr Keller reports similar experiences: he and Jimmy Shu showcased Territory products and flavours at the Australian Tourism Expo in Adelaide in June but, he asks, where is the marketing, the local activity that responds to the interest they created?
Because of the industry’s intrinsic link to Indigenous people and culture Mr Wark sees widespread social benefits.
“The wildfoods industry needs to give recognition to the people and culture it comes from.
“This isn’t about me. Without these people’s knowledge I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.
“For every social problem we’ve got, let’s come up with a good idea and run with it: let’s help ourselves out of the gutter.”
There are two immediate structural issues: sustainability of the bushfoods/wildfoods supply and a skills shortage in the hospitality industry. 
“Sustainability of supply is a real issue.
“There are all sorts of questions to be asked and I know the industry is asking them and Desert Knowledge is attempting to answer them.
“It starts with how will the next bush foods crop be supplied – for chefs to use but also for the general public.
“Later this month I’m going to the Louis Vuitton Food and Wine Film Festival in Hawaii together with Juleigh Robins from Robins Bush Foods.
“There’s no point me doing these showcase dinners unless I can say here’s the product.
“And then there are the longer term questions and questions of ethics.
“Will we propagate?
“Will we use genetics or would that lose the special appeal of bushfoods or wildfoods?
“Will we allow these foods to be grown overseas?How do we store the foods?How do we package them, transport them?”
On the skills shortage he and Mr Keller want to see local chefs working with schools.
Mr Keller is organising a working lunch with the chefs at the end of this month to nut out an approach.

Just for the sake of the argument, let’s assume the NT Government is a nasty, Darwin centred regime, hiding behind a towering Berrimah Line, spending a fortune on things like a wave pool for Darwin but a pittance on developing The Centre?
What if Transport Minister Delia Lawrie were in Melbourne right now, meeting with “international road safety experts,” while starving our major roads of repair funds with the result that local transport operators call them death traps?
All purely hypothetical, of course, unheard of, practically, but what if? Would our masters in Darwin have to fear the wrath of Central Australia?
Not a lot.
Alice Springs has – potentially – three main lobbies: the Alice Springs Town Council, the Central Australian Tourism Industry Association (CATIA) and the Chamber of Commerce.
The Alice Springs News has sent a kind of development manifesto for comment to all three of them (see opposite page), as well as to Elliot McAdam, the new Minister for Central Australia (he’s working on a reply, pointing out he’s just taken over the job), and Opposition Leader Jodeen Carney (no answer so far).
The issues contained in this manifesto have been put to the Alice News by our readers over the years.
They are expressed in a summary form, and not in order of priority, as most subjects have a myriad of additional angles attached to them. 
Some issues are fresh. Some are older than the The News, now nearly 13 years in weekly publication.
Some are much older.
Some are issues of convenience, others are matters of life and death.
Some demands expressed here in the positive are as vehemently put in the negative by members of our community: but either way, our leaders should have a view, and put it to the – very distant – NT Government.
But alas, would the leaders of Alice Springs please stand up?
We had a comprehensive reply from CATIA’s chief Lynne Peterkin, but focused entirely on tourism aspects.
The chamber’s Terry Lillis commented only on the need to accelerate the development of an international airport in Alice Springs, and is seeking the cooperation of Voyages, which runs the Ayers Rock Resort, to rely on Alice Springs for its overseas tourists. He also says the major dirt roads – the Tanami and Plenty highways - need to be fixed urgently: “This only going to happen if the government and the mining companies can enter into some meaningful dialogue,” says Mr Lillis. 
Mayor Fran Kilgariff says: “Because of the number and complexity of the issues, and the fact that Council does not have a position on all of these matters, I have taken the opportunity to forward your [manifesto] to all aldermen for feedback.
“I will be happy to make comment when I have received their opinions.”
So far only Aldermen Melanie van Haaren and Murray Stewart sent us well considered comments.
Ald Jane Clark had previously given us her thoughtful views about the future of Alice Springs as a private person, and a descendant of an old Central Australian family, which we will run here.
One conclusion from this exercise so far is that the leaders don’t seem to be acting as a coordinated force, capable of putting significant pressure on the government.
In fact, the town’s leaders – should we call them that? – don’t even seem to be swapping notes in any meaningful way.
All they can do is savagely bashing the government – with a feather duster.

1 CATIA does not have a policy relating to park ownership however, access to parks should not be restricted whoever has ownership.
2 What is meant by “development”? The West MacDonnells National Park is already a prime tourist attraction. CATIA is pushing for World Heritage status and has the support of the NT Government and Aboriginal groups in this.
3 It is agreed that some upgrading of infrastructure is necessary but “a string of new resorts”? Come on, who is trying to destroy one of our most wondeful natural assets?
4 CATIA would agree with this statement.
5 No comment. Any revolution in Aboriginal affairs will not be brought about by CATIA!
6 CATIA has been working for nearly two years to get the necessary funds and the agreement to upgrade Alice Springs airport to handle the current charters from Japan effectively and to be prepared for an increase in such flights. At this point we have funds from the NT Government, a committment from NT Airports and an assurance of Federal funds supposedly directly from the prime Minister. We are currently waiting for this final committement. Meanwhile, JAL, the operator of the Japanese charters has committed to purchasing some of the necessary equipment and basing it at Alice Springs Airport. To CATIA, this indicates a committment to the continuation and expansion of this service.
Re Alice becoming a hub for regular international flights – great thought but realistically this is unlikely, especially in the short term. Let’s just consolidate the charter market and get that growing.
7 Good luck on this one!
8 This would be great but what real reason can we give the NT Government for doing this?
9 & 10 CATIA has no comment.
11 CATIA would certainly like to see the sealing of the Mereenie Loop Road completed sooner rather than later.
12 As a tourism body, CATIA’s concern is anti-social behaviour which reflects negatively on tourism. The underlying problems of substance abuse are not within our jurisdiction.
We do not think that prohibition works and have objected to any further restrictions on take away liquor trading hours. We also object strongly to the continued use of erroneous figures to sensationalise an already dreadful situation. There are only 11 takeaway licences in Alice - not the 90 plus which is touted by many politicians and journalists. However, we do not have any suggestions as to how to solve the problem.
13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 CATIA has no comment on these statements.
19 Who is still going on about a dam at the Telegraph Station? Surely the town has moved on from that one! This is a personal comment - not from CATIA.

LYNNE PETERKIN, the head of the Central Australian Tourism Association, gave the following responses. They correspond with the numbers in the “manifesto” on the facing page.

This is how Alderman Melanie van Haaren responded.
A big YES to these points:-
• We should develop parks, especially the West Macs, as the prime tourism attraction in Central Australia.
• The establishment of facilities for international flights to Alice Springs must be accelerated and given priority.
• CDU should establish a fully fledged campus in Alice Springs, though we may be better to negotiate with Flinders or a combination of CDU and Flinders to give added strength and credibility.  Works well for nursing.
• We need to escalate alcohol control measures until crime, public misconduct and ill health is reduced.
• I either disagree or don’t know enough about the other suggestions to comment, but believe all should be bought to the attention of the Alice in 10 committee for consideration, and that Council should respond as an entity to the list as it is reflective of local opinion.

Instead of simply reacting to issues in Alice Springs and focussing on tourism, the town council needs a long term “healthy home life plan” says Jane Clark, who has lived in Alice Springs for 26 years. 
Although an alderman, she is speaking here as a long term resident and not on behalf of the council.  
Ms Clark’s family has been here since 1929. Her grandfather built the Ghan track and her grandmother was a founding member of the Country Women’s Association.
“I would like to put something back in recognition of all my family has gained from this place of significance unique in Australia,” says Ms Clark.
“We need to have a social and physical infrastructure based plan for the future comfort of the people who live here not just the tourists. And we can’t continue to be knee-jerk in our responsibilities.”
“There are huge opportunities for people in Alice Springs that aren’t available in other places in Australia, like a strong career path and a good lifestyle for families. We have one of the youngest populations in Australia with a high number of people in their twenties and thirties but many are leaving: we need to look at how to keep them here.”  
Earlier this year council rejected Alderman Clark’s proposal that it consult experts to plan for the social and physical infrastructure of the town. Instead, “the next business plan for council in 2008 will be, once again, the work of well meaning but untrained councilors and council staff,” says Ms Clark. 

She was inspired after attending a talk from planners in Wyndham near Melbourne which has a similar population makeup as Alice Springs: it has a high birth rate with a majority of young people. 

“In Wyndham they are looking at what will stimulate business and the population and less at financial statistics and tourism that we always look at. Tourism will benefit by default if we have a well planned happy township.” 

Ms Clark says that to stop young people moving away for further education, courses must be improved here. 
“I’ve worked with Centralian College for many years as a lecturer in IT and I think that since it changed from Centralian College to CDU, the education is not as relevant to the population as should be. 

“CDU needs to engage with the business community a lot more to find out what training needs of businesses are.”

Ms Clark suggests a greater number of VET courses should be available. 
“Mechanics and hairdressing courses are good but there is not a lot of IT training or building trade skills being taught.
“There is a good work opportunity for people in IT but the training is patchy: you can’t finish your entire certificate here and companies are always sending people interstate to upgrade skills which means it is a big expense to train staff.” 

Ms Clark says there are huge career opportunities for people who want to stay here for the long term. 

“Alice Springs is the place to jump up through a career path. If you’re living in Melbourne there could be 50 people eligible for a job.
But if you come to Alice and have the skills and are prepared to stay for the long term, the opportunities are unlimited.” 

As career people start to have a family,  childcare needs to be carefully examined in order to retain young families. 

“We have a high birth rate in Alice Springs and surrounding communities and we’re bucking the trend of an ageing population that other small towns have. 

“But when childcare facilities are coming to council with financial problems, we need to consider a long term solution. The problem is not going to go away.”
Ms Clark says the council needs to lobby the NT and Australian governments for more childcare places to be funded, and for centralised administrative support to be provided for existing centres in Alice Springs.
“Training for childcare workers should be heavily subsidised by the government or free, and new profitable childcare centres need to be built in the next few years,” she says. 

Ms Clark says that spending more attention to “streetscaping” in neighbourhoods will make families want to remain living here. 

“Upgrading the mall is a good thing but better facilitated neighbourhoods are more important. We need good footpaths, prickle free parks, make streets inviting so people run around the block rather than drive to the football oval. 

“It’s important people feel safe and secure in their community and to make it useable for people living there.  

“If Alice is a great place to live, there will be a much better workforce because people will stay longer.”

And providing for an aging population is also vital in retaining families as they grow up, as well as catering for our current older people, says Ms Clark. 

“Four families have recently told me they’re leaving town to be nearer their parents who are getting older. They would prefer if their parents could live here but there aren’t the services like medical services, home care services or extensive bus routes to support them. 

“And people who are getting older who live here are planning for their retirement elsewhere.
“Council needs to step back and plan properly for the population not just tourists or the mall, which are both important but only part of the whole picture.” 

Ms Clark hopes to get her ideas into action early next year, contacting groups like the Chamber of Commerce and CDU to be involved in greater planning of the town. She has also recommended that council organise a summit with former mayors and aldermen to use their “wisdom and background” for future planning.
“The work of council should be to understand our social infrastructure and needs and to lobby the NT and Australian governments for a fairer share of funding and services to meet the needs of our town, but we can’t do that without good professional needs analysis.
“We have time to do it before the next business planning cycle if we start research now.”
Alice Springs as a whole has to lead the way in reforming itself, says Alderman Murray Stewart. 
The Darwin Government clearly doesn’t need our vote to remain in power, therefore, we need to become self reliant and commercially dynamic. 
We need progressive action when it comes to industry development, education, law and order, and employment. 
Our local council needs brevity and needs to embrace those who are action-oriented and unique. 
If we lead the way with reformist action-orientated ideas, Darwin and Canberra will eventually have to support them.  
Having a racially based handover of our parks will be disastrous particularly for indigenous people. 
For example, despite their wealth, how many Indigenous people do Centrecorp employ? 
Any tourism industry or developments must always be based on dynamic merits.
Anyone with any degree of commercial savvy would understand that to sell this part of the world to the rest of the universe should involve engaging with and employing more Indigenous people. 
Underpinning this should be a non-racial approach to management.
Alice Springs should develop from the ground up an academy of sport, art, music and tourism which would be about positively exploiting the clearly abundant Indigenous talents, thus producing careers. 
The strictly theoretical approach to indigenous education has clearly failed.
Small desert towns throughout the world have developed their own industries. 
Why is it therefore, that we are still heavily reliant on welfare and tourism to prop up this town? 
Surely designing solar concepts and perhaps alternative small town vehicles of transportation could be possible, perhaps something in between a golf buggy and a rickshaw? 
After all, most of us live within three kilometers of our place of work and it never ceases to amaze me why people, sometimes only one to two per vehicle, take their big 4WDs into town thus clogging up our already stretched parking reserves, not to mention the excessive use of petroleum oils.
When it comes to law and order, children who come from disheveled, undisciplined and undesirable circumstances, should never be short changed when it comes to the gift of structure and boundary setting. 
Children need, want and expect this from those who are their guardians and leaders and this is where we are failing them. 
It is time that policing became an Alice Springs community responsibilty. 
We must open our hearts to our children and ensure that our town provides them with a plethora of sport and recreational activities, artistic outlets, and zones of expression.
Our empty, disused parks could be developed into theme concept reserves in partnership with our young. 
Allied to this should be a firm approach to law and order and accepting responsibilities for one’s actions. 
Our streets late at night are not the place for our children vandalising property, and harming others should not be regarded as acceptable in any way and those who digress, particularly where minor crimes are concerned, should be compulsorily placed in a community based program which would consist of an initial period of containment isolation, 48 hours.
The tail end of this program should be about self-esteem building, providing a platform for fitness and health and establishing a clear skills based direction, topped off with a contractual obligation between that young person and society to make the best of what they have got.
I am currently in the process of building on all of these themes with a group of committed people. 
I have no desire to be bogged down with bureaucracy and with pleasing everybody. 
I simply intend involving myself with action-orientated people who can and will see these things happen. 
How far do we think Steve Irwin (RIP) would have got with animal conservation, if he had referred all of his plans to some governmental, paper weighted committee?
Let’s just do it.  

1 We need to retain ownership of national parks in public hands.

2 We should develop parks, especially the West MacDonnells, as the prime tourism attraction in Central Australia.

3 This would include the promotion and facilitation of the establishment of a string of new resorts, and promote the creation, by private enterprise, of activities ranging from trekking to 4WD routes and motorbike adventures, horse and camel riding, camping, ballooning etc, and experiencing traditional Aboriginal culture. Tasmania is a great example of how to do this well.

4 Insofar as it enhances the role of the parks as assets promoting the broad social and commercial development of the region, we need to encourage the participation of Aborigines in their management and the running and owning of concessions.

5 This should be part of a broad revolution in Aboriginal affairs: we must move away from nurse maiding perpetually dependent and supposedly incompetent people. We must forge a partnership focussing on the vast commercial potential of this region and the enjoyment of its superb environment by all races. That will require, over time, a fundamental change of personnel dealing with Aborigines, in government as well as NGOs. Bureaucrats and social workers have over 30 years brought about failure and misery on a massive scale, and ignored or suppressed the extraordinary resilience and resourcefulness of the Aboriginal people in The Centre.

6 The establishment of facilities for international flights to Alice Springs must be accelerated and given priority. The Alice is ideally situated to become a hub for national and international flights in and to Australia. As the owner of the Yulara airport, the NT Government must prevent any moves towards international flights there, but the Ayers Rock Resort will benefit from an upgrading of Alice Springs.

7 The NT Government should spend $10m a year to acquire cattle station land to expand the parks estate, and create commercial incentives for Aboriginal land holders to add some of their land to the parks estate.

8 The government should return its parks administration to Alice Springs.

9 The government should put 50% of the Tourism NT budget, around $20m, at the disposal of Alice-based community interests, such as the Chamber of Commerce, in consultation with the Town Council and CATIA.
10 We should make continued public support for Desert Knowledge conditional upon its demonstrated benefit to the social and commercial development of the region.

11 The government needs to double expenditure on road construction and maintenance, including the Mereenie Loop, the Tanami Road and the East West Highway.

12 We need to escalate alcohol control measures until crime, public misconduct and ill health are reduced to levels no greater than the Australian averages.

13 Charles Darwin University should establish a fully fledged campus in Alice Springs, with comprehensive courses and local staff, enticing families with tertiary education age children to stay in town.

14 The Larapinta residential development has set the value of native title rights at half the freehold price of land. This needs to be reversed. The clear intention of Federal laws is that the value of native title rights should be set on a case by case basis. Native title claims over Yulara and Darwin have recently been rejected by the court.

15 The government needs to remove onerous conditions from the development of the second half of Larapinta so it can go ahead and land prices in the town are reduced and affordable housing is created through an increase in supply.

16 The government needs to replace the evaporation sewage plant with a fully fledged recycling facility, requiring just a couple of hectares. It can then rehabilitate the freehold land presently used for the evaporation ponds, some two square kilometers, and sell it for residential housing. This would further lower currently excessive land prices in the town, and pay for the recycling facility.

17 The government needs to close the rubbish tip, rehabilitate it and start a new one at Brewer Estate. The power station should also be moved to Brewer Estate.

18 The government needs to make a comprehensive assessment of the state of the town’s sewage pipes and start a replacement program, if and as required.

19 The government needs to put in place effective flood mitigation for Alice Springs which, on present indications, requires the construction of a dam upstream from the Telegraph Station. This can either be a dry or a wet dam. Failure to do so will have catastrophic consequences for Alice Springs and its people as global warming will cause rainstorms to become more frequent and ferocious. 100 year floods will become 50 or 20 year floods.

Minister for Central Australia Elliot McAdam has called on the Commonwealth to “make its position known very clearly” on the future of remote Aboriginal communities and outstations.
He made the call at a NAIDOC forum hosted by CAAMA on Monday.  The Commonwealth’s representative at the forum, Ross McDougall, head of the Indigenous Coordination Centre in Alice Springs, had said earlier that he was not aware of “any policy whatsoever of removing remote communities”.
The forum had heard  from CAAMA news director Paul Wiles, quoting, unquestioningly, The Australian’s Nicolas Rothwell, on fears that the Federal Government’s policies will empty remote communities and send people into the regional centres.
Mr McDougall said the government does not have the resources to fund outstations where people used to, but no longer live: “That is not the case for the hundreds of communities throughout Australia where people do live,” said Mr McDougall.
Mr Wiles questioned him about the situation at Mutitjulu, which, it has been claimed, is being starved of Federal funds since the appointment of an administrator in July.
Mr McDougall told the forum that funding for services continues to be available.
He later told the Alice News that the activities of the administrator are restricted pending the outcome of legal action brought by the community council over the appointment of the administrator.
The administrator is not allowed to enter into new contracts which does limit what could normally be done, said Mr McDougall.
He said basic services, such as power and water, sewerage, and rubbish collection, are being provided “to a greater or lesser extent” under existing contracts.
He said the normal process of an administration involves first “fixing problems” and second, “putting in place changes so that the organisation can get on with its business”. He said the second phase has been restricted by the legal dispute.
On another issue, the forum heard from Walter Shaw, representing Tangentyere Council, that the town camp leases will not be applying for dry area status.
“The town camps have never closed the gates on remote visitors,” said Mr Shaw.
Lhere Artepe’s Betty Pearce had asked, given the town council’s determination to press ahead with dry area status for Alice, “Where will the drinkers go?”
“We desperately need areas for people to drink,” said Mrs Pearce, expressing concern about drinkers camping on the outskirts of town, out of sight – “their children are at risk”.
“There’s already a big problem near the gliding strip,” she said.
David Evans from the Amoonguna health clinic also  expressed concern about the prospect of more drinkers moving into that community, which is just a 20 minute drive from town.
Mayor Fran Kilgariff later told the News she had expected the town camps to become dry: “We have said we would support this.” 
She acknowledged there will be an issue about where people can drink once the town’s public areas become dry (which in theory they already are under the “2km law”).
“If they don’t come to the notice of our rangers or the police, they will slip through the system,” she said.
She hopes the “dry town” media campaign will circumvent the problem, by making people aware that it will be hard to come into Alice for the purpose of drinking.
She told the forum that Alice Springs is set to become “an Indigenous town” in 10 to 15 years’ time.
“Where we live will no longer be a town where white people set the rules,” she said, welcoming the opportunity now of being on the town camps taskforce implementation committee and having the finance and “people at the table” to make changes.
Mr McAdam took on board “the positive comments by the mayor”, urging everyone to deal now with the changes ahead: “If not, we are in for difficult times. No government or organisation can still operate in isolation.”

Gambling earned the NT Government over $43m in 2004-05, over $3m more than was estimated.
The estimate for 2005-06 is over $49m, in excess of $6m more than the 2004-05 amount.
Meanwhile, Minister for Racing, Gaming and Licensing, Chris Burns, announced the government’s latest grants to community organisations to address problem gambling.
Amity Community Services has received just under $38,000 to promote Gambling Awareness Week next year. 
Anglicare has received more than $427,000 over three years to maintain and expand existing programs for addiction and financial counselling and harm minimisation.
That means these “amelioration grants” in the first year will amount to little more than half of one per cent of the revenue.
The announcement was made more than a week after Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, Richard Lim called for tighter control on the expansion of gambling services and improved assistance for problem gamblers, following the release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Review of Gambling Activity in Australia.
The review showed that the Northern Territory suffers the highest gambling losses per adult of any state or territory, more than 29% greater than the national average, according to Dr Lim.  “The social cost of gambling is widely recognised,” Dr Lim said in a release dated September 21.
“The government must find a balance between the right of individual Territorians to gamble and the responsibility of the government for overall community welfare.
“When the last study was released in July 2001, just as the Martin Government was coming into office, the net takings from gambling per adult across the Territory were $1079, with the Northern Territory ranked third in gambling takings behind New South Wales and Victoria.
“This is in sharp contrast with [the latest] statistics of $1250 in gambling takings per adult Territorian, a marked increase of over 15%,” said Dr Lim. 
Said Dr Burns in a release dated October 1:  “More than 70 per cent of Territorians gamble at one time or another.
“It may be at the TAB, on lotto, the pokies or in a casino.
“Many people enjoy gambling and don’t experience any problems. But for about one per cent of Territorians gambling can become an issue.”
The official figures, of course, do not include the losses by hundreds of Aboriginal people across the outback who gamble for piles of cash soon after each welfare pay-out.

Defense counsel for peace activists who broke into the Pine Gap spy base argued that they could not be charged under the Defense (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 because a threat against Australia could not be proven.
Justice Sally Thomas in the Supreme Court in Alice Springs on Tuesday heard legal arguments relating to the charges against the four Christians Against All Terrorism involved in events at Pine Gap on December 9, 2005.
The four – Jim Dowling (from Dayboro), Adele Goldie (Brisbane), Bryan Law (Cairns) and Donna Mulhearn (Sydney) – were charged with indictable offences under the Act of unlawfully entering a prohibited area.
The maximum penalty for that is seven years imprisonment.
They were also charged with operating a camera in a prohibited area (maximum two years), as well as Commonwealth Crimes Act charges of trespass and damage.
Three pleaded not guilty to all charges, while Jim Dowling refused to plead, not recognising charges brought againt him for “resisting war crimes”.
A plea of not guilty was entered for him.
Defence counsel, in a legal team headed by retired Federal Court judge, Ron Merkel QC, argued that the Crown could not prove that the area where the offences allegedly took place was a prohibited area at the time and that hence an acquittal should be directed by the court.
She argued that two very clear preconditions of that section need to be satisfied with regard to the area being a prohibited area: it needs to be necessary for the purpose of the defence of the Commonwealth to declare it as such.
And the Minister needs to decide that the area is a prohibited area for the purpose of the Act.
It could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the declarationof the area was necessary for the purpose of defence of the Commonwealth.
She argued that the language of the section is very plain and unambiguous, reflecting that objective fact must be present as a precondition.
She argued that the Crown would need to “read words into Section 8” to succeed in its case, but said that would be “impermissible”, referring to legal authorities.
Counsel for the Crown told the court that the words  “where the Minister is satisfied that it is necessary” would need to be read into the relevant section of the Act, because without those words the section would be unintelligible.
“Who else would make the decision?” he asked.
“It would be a nonsense to say that anyone else but the Minister would do so.
“These additional words are required.”
He went on: “The hardship the defendants will suffer is self-inflicted.
“They were warned not to trespass, they chose to do so.
“To impute invalidity to the statute would not see justice done.”
The case is adjourned to Thursday next week.

To me Alice Springs is just as seasonal as Darwin. Sure there isn’t the mystique surrounding the wet and the dry but we do have very definite seasons.
I have spoken about them previously. There’s the cold and the hot.
For those new to town, you’ve missed the cold so welcome to the glorious hot.
The first hot that I experienced was last summer. Surprisingly enough, it was quite hot.
My focus was on getting through heat the likes of which I had hardly ever experienced previously.
This year I know what’s coming. Heat, hot winds and uncomfortable nights trying to sleep. And I’m OK with that. I came through last summer fairly unscathed and I have no doubt, as far as the conditions are concerned, I can do it again.
But now my mind is alert to some of the other quirky little idiosyncrasies that come with the Alice Springs summer.
I was talking to Rex the reptile guy. He was saying that he is readying himself for a really, really busy summer of snake catching.
“Oh! Delightful”, was my reply. Having let the heat go in my mind, I let in the idea that this summer is snake season. Not that last summer was any different, just that I hadn’t thought about it.
Since then, in almost every other conversation, friends have lovingly shared their “snake stories”.
One such tale was from a kid who told me about the time last summer that they found a Death Adder in the sand at the bowling club. WHAT! Snakes are getting in on the crackerjack action too now.
Another friend told me of the time she was faced with a mulga snake in her kitchen.
The only snake I want to see in my kitchen is the one that sits at the bottom of the door to keep the draft out.
I have been told that statistically in Central Australia, you’re never more than 250 metres away from something that can kill you.
Most of my life, I haven’t been herpaphobic (afraid of snakes) because they haven’t been  around me.
But when they pop in for tea on a Tuesday evening, it’s going to put a dampener on my week to be honest.
In my opinion snakes are like ex-girlfriends. I don’t mind them existing I’m just happier when they’re in a different postcode.
How has a vibrant and bold town like Alice Springs developed in a place surrounded by a menagerie of animals that can kill you! 
Getting back to Rex the reptile guy for a moment. His shows tell you that unless you provoke a snake, chances are you are pretty safe.
Look, far be it for me to argue with a man that knows more about the subject than I ever care to, but can I get that guarantee in writing?
That’s the thing about snakes. They are emotionless, fast and if they decide to bite you, chances are that’s not a good day for you. A dog on the other hand, shows that it’s angry. It gives you some “get out of the way” warning. Not snakes.
And snakes aren’t the only creatures in our vast ecology that have the potential for doing me harm. There is talk of bird-eating spiders. I beg your pardon but who in their right mind is a fan of a spider that can eat a bird! One more evolutionary step and they become baby-eating spider and then we are all in trouble.
White tip spiders, and the ones that look like daddy long legs but are really dangerous and can jump at you! Is this earth as I know it or some sort of sci fi nightmare?  
I think we should do a great service for the hundreds of thousands of tourists who come here every year. At the airport, and on the roads in and out of town, we should erect a sign which says: Welcome to Central Australia – Don’t Touch Anything – You Could Die. 
I know I’d sleep better at night. 

Sir,– Re speed limits in the NT: what the bloody hell can we do about the “rumours”being floated? What the hell would a bloody Monash academic know about NT conditions?
“True”statistics would show that bugger all accidents are caused by our unlimited roads.
All these bloody “blowins” from Victoria and NSW, including the chief commissioner, are only going on their previous states, which as we know, have enormous populations compared to us. Whenever I am there in a car I feel it’s a wonder more people aren’t killed and all this at 100ks or less.
I do a considerable number of ks in a year and only ever feel unsafe when I am near bloody tourists who are probably only doing a speed similar to their limits wherever they come from.
John Sheridan
Alice Springs

Sir,– The comments by Professor Ian Johnson from the Accident Research Centre at Monash University saying that the speed limit on Territory Roads should be 100 km/h is likely used by the Territory Government as a smoke screen to introduce speed limits in the Territory.
What the government appear to be doing is flagging the introduction of a slightly faster speed limit so that they can claim that they have protected Territorians from people like Professor Johnson. 
It is the job of the Accident Research Centre to find danger and they put a great deal of effort into doing so.  It is the job of Government to balance those risks with the demands of daily life. 
The open speed limit on Territory roads is an expectation that Territorians have for good and practical reasons. 
Professor Johnson says that it would be better to be on the road for an extra four hours than travelling at 140 km/h. 
An extra four hours driving means driving at night and in this part of the world that really is dangerous.
Meanwhile, the rumours that the international airline that has the Northern Territory in its name, Qantas, is planning to pull out of the Territory all together continue to persist among its staff in the Territory. 
Qantas must make its position clear. 
I continually hear speculation that Qantas is moving to make its budget carrier Jetstar the sole carrier in the Northern Territory.
The lack of denials by the carrier does nothing to allay the fears of many Territorians.
The Territory has a huge stake in the Darwin and Alice Springs conventions centres and the incapacity for people travelling to the Territory to do so on anything other than a budget carrier will have a detrimental effect on the ability of those convention providers to service the market place.
The taxpayer’s exposure in this instance is substantial. 
Fay Miller
Shadow Minister for Transport

Sir,– I have just recently returned from a nine day holiday in the NT and spent four of those days in and around Alice and Ayers Rock.
I was appalled at the amount of rubbish that I saw on my drive out to Ayers Rock and cannot believe that, one,  people pollute our countryside so much and, two, that the state / local governments don’t do something about cleaning it up and posting notices declaring that rubbish disposal from vehicle windows is illegal.
I saw many multi-lingual signs declaring all sorts of things along the way, but very little relating to rubbish disposal and fines that are applicable.
What makes it worse is that I have a sneaking suspicion that it is not just tourists from overseas that are responsible for the littering, but our own homegrown tourist and, most alarmingly, the local popoulation.
We have such a culturally interesting countryside and some very special local treasures that are a wonder to view, yet we have them polluted with cans, bottles, tyres, batteries and numerous other bits of miscellaneous rubbish.
Territorians, make the most of the wonderful countryside that you have and lobby your governments to put up more signs to make people aware of the damage they are doing by polluting your land, and also start fining people, be they tourists, or even worse those from within your community.
Dale J Wise
Ashwood, Victoria

Sir,- Some of the references to the Alice Springs Regional Outline Structure Plan 1985 (Alice News, Sept 28, page 5) were potentially misleading.
Our association, at both the May 2004 and August 2006 hearings in relation to proposals for NTP 4014 (“White Gums”), referred to and discussed the structure plan in our submissions, within the context of local planning history.
This document said “An Outline Structure plan is ... more preliminary, presenting all alternatives being considered for future development. 
The primary intention in producing this Outline Structure Plan is to provide opportunity for comment ...”
In other words, nothing more than a (albeit quite necessary) discussion paper.  The so called “Commonage - White Gums” alternative was only one of five considered, the others being Undoolya, Owen Springs (near the jail), Brewer Plain (east of the Brewer Estate) and Emily Plains (east of Amoonguna). 
As your article correctly alluded to, of these, only the Undoolya option made it past round one.
We are nonplussed as to why anyone would now wave this discussion paper about as though it were a Policy document.
Roger Thompson
Alice Springs Rural Area Association Inc
ED - The Alice News stands by its story. Commonage - White Gums was an option for residential development but – as we reported – “subsequent town planning has identified Mt John Valley and Undoolya Valley ... as the locations of further urban expansion”.
We misled no-one and no-one is waving the 1985 document about as a policy document.
The point of the report was that it’s not the first time the White Gums option has come up for discussion.

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